I'll admit it: I didn't give the Mountaineers a chance last Wednesday in their first round Big East Tournament game against the Friars. I don't know exactly why that was. Was it because the Blue and Gold had already won two close games against the Friars, and maybe were due for a let down? Was it because the game was in Madison Square Garden? I mean seriously, the Mountaineers never play well there. The only place I'm more afraid of is the Palumbo Center at Duquesne. Or maybe I was scared of the Friars because Tim Welsh looks like the Phantom of the Opera, minus the mask of course. In any event, I had a bad feeling about the game, to the point that my roommate, who is as optimistic as they come, was probably ready to beat me senseless with my 2004 Red Sox World Series commemorative bat. But during all this, I failed to remember one simple fact: when you're talking about the Mountaineers, you've got to expect the unexpected. Luckily I hadn't promised to eat a jar of mayonnaise or anything like that if the Mountaineers won.
So really it came to great shock when I watched the game Wednesday afternoon, and saw a repeat of the LSU game. I mean seriously…did the Phantom not tell his players to guard Kevin Pittsnogle on the perimeter? KP looked like a much taller, more artistically decorated Jimmy Chitwood on the Garden floor. He couldn't miss! Never have I been happier to be wrong. Of course with the 23 point win, this presented one of the great moral dilemmas in the life of a college student.
I hadn't given much thought to a second round match-up with Boston College. I casually asked my roommate what time tip would be on Thursday afternoon. When he told me that tip would be high noon, I felt that feeling in my stomach that you get when you're about to get onto a roller coaster. I only had two scheduled classes for Thursday. Of course, they were scheduled from 11:30-12:45, and 1:00-2:15. Not only would I not get to watch the beginning of the game, I'd have to miss the entire thing! Or maybe I could skip class…hmmm.
Upon checking my email, I had a note from my Anthropology (1:00-2:15) professor that we would be viewing a film on Thursday, which meant we were expected to take good notes to turn in for a grade. So skipping Anthro was out, but there was still hope for not going to Geography, at least until I checked the syllabus. According to ye olde syllabus, we were going to do an in class assignment…one of five for the entire semester that makes up a good chunk of our final grade. I wasn't going to get to skip either class, but I was going to keep up with the game, no matter what I had to do. I thought for a few minutes, and then headed out to a local electronics store to purchase a small AM/FM radio.
I had to make sure I wouldn't be seen listening to the game in class, so the headphones had to be small, the kind you can just plug into your ear. I found what I was looking for, paid the shop-keep, and headed on my merry way.
The next day, I got up a little bit earlier than normal so I could get everything situated. I decided to wear a blue hooded sweatshirt to class, which would enable me to go completely incognito. I put the radio in my pocket, and brought the wire for the headphone all the way up under my sweatshirt and into my ear. I kept my hood on, just to cover up any loose wires, and I was all set for class.
Upon arriving to Geography, I let my buddy that sits with me in class know what was going on. He admitted giving thought to the same idea. I paid attention for the first 20 minutes of class before I finally had to turn on the radio, just to get a feel for the game. Things got even weirder at that point, as the first words I heard when turning on the pre-game were "Tyrone Sally has the flu, and is not in the Garden at this moment. Frank Young will get the start in Ty's place."
"No way," I said in shock, momentarily forgetting that I was in class. I kept my emotions in check for the rest of class, letting out a small "Yea" or "Alright" only here and there, while keeping those around me informed by writing a running score on my notebook, and still getting my in class assignment completed.
I got out of Geography early, and had some time to kill. Problem is, the Mountaineers were up 15, and I figured that by going back to my apartment or stopping in the Mountainlair to watch the game I would automatically jinx them into a monumental collapse, possibly costing us an NCAA tournament bid. I couldn't bear the thought of having that on my shoulders, so I just calmly sat in front of the building where my next class was held, still listening to the game.
When BC made their run though, it was gut check time. Not just for the team, but for me. I was trying to pay attention to the film in Anthro, but I wasn't about to turn off the game only to turn it back on and find out we had lost by a comfortable margin. Putting my multi-tasking skills to work, I again managed to complete the assignment and listen to the game at the same time.
By the time I was done there, the Mountaineers were shooting foul shots to ice the game. I breathed a sigh of relief. The Blue and Gold were going to semi-final Friday, and I didn't have to miss a second of the action.
Friday night, I again had to bust out the radio. My girlfriend's father and one of her best friends were playing in a recital at the CAC, which we had promised to attend. She told me I didn't have to go, but I wanted to anyway, if for no other reason than to take my radio along to work its magic one more time. Problem is, the concert was in the basement of the CAC, meaning my radio reception was a tad bit broken. I could still hear Tony and Jay though, if only faintly. After the concert as we were leaving, somebody asked me what the score was.
So much for incognito, but I replied that we were up seven at the half.
We rushed to the Boston Beanery for dinner. Between the time we parked the car across from the old courthouse square downtown and walked across the street and half a block to the Beanery, the Mountaineers' 10-point lead had been erased. I was contemplating letting them eat while I stayed outside and listened to the game on my radio, but a man can only do so much. At some point, he's got to eat. The entire restaurant looked on, living and dying with every long rebound, loose ball, or three pointer. When Joe Herber nailed the big three from the corner, the place blew up. After Mike Gansey, the best thing out of Ohio since Wendy's, nailed two foul shots, everyone exchanged high fives.
Saturday night I decided to watch the game. I figured if they lost, it wasn't because I wasn't listening to my little radio. When the Cuse got out to an early lead, I walked outside with my radio for a minute. Of course, the Mountaineers came back to tie while I was listening, but I wasn't about to not watch the title game. Even though they lost, I found out that my radio was indeed a sign of luck.
Beginning Wednesday morning, I'll be working for MetroNews at the Boys State High School Basketball Tournament. This means I won't be making the trip to Cleveland Thursday, what with the final game at the Civic Center scheduled to tip at 9:40 p.m. Since the high school tournament and Mountaineer game overlap, I'll again turn to my new good luck charm.
I'm not going to guarantee the win, but as long as I've got that radio in my ear, good things are going to happen to the Mountaineers. While I don't expect it to bat a thousand forever, I don't think I've seen the last of the luck from the little radio. Then again, I've been wrong before.